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There are various types of sites out there aimed at different types of professional skills and also there are sites that are more generalized. You might find companies and individuals predominantly looking for marketing consultants, Digital Advertising Experts, Data Processing Services, Medical Transcription Services, Voice Transcription Services, Medical insurance claims processing, website designing and software programming, writing translating and editing services. Some online bidding sites are a mixed bag. Some sites are more popular than others and it may take a bit of time to find the site that’s right for you.

Had a Q&A session at LinkedIn (A professional social network also with freelancers). The question put forward was as below:

Does the term freelancers is used very loosely to get quotes by clever players?

Many real experts believe that the term Freelance is used very loosely to get quotes by clever players though it is getting useless in today’s world. If someone can develop a product or service for X Company why not do it for him or her self (or a planned team) and enjoy the future benefits. After all ROI or Make vs. Buy decisions are not meant for mammoth firms only!

Neither am I a freelancer nor am I asking answer for my OWN vested interest. Just a question for experts to analyze and answer for sake of this community of mostly freelancers or job seekers I suppose? And what they produce can sometimes revolutionize the market while they themselves are unnoticed and under-paid.

Some interesting answers were:

Not all the times a freelancer will need his/her own service. Sometimes they may not have funds to implement their ideas & may not have the capacity to set up something of their own. And most of the times they are people with specific skill set who may not warrant a full time employment by Medium or Small enterprises. For example a web development / maintenance professional. So in order to stay productive and increase their earning potential they freelance.

There is something called variable and fixed costs or more precisely investments. if what you claim is true then entrepreneurs would simply be left out. One may have the idea to create a breakthrough however may not have the infrastructural strength nor the ability to scale up for mass production and dissemination. There are several examples of this and yes the point of freelancer status may be done to get quotes however the downside of that aspect is left to the employer of such services to do their homework and determine the validity of such a quote. For example when they receive quotations they should also possibly look at the profile and references with a track record. Once they accomplish it the focus is on getting an effective and efficient provider and not worry about a quote issue.

I don’t think freelancers are any more or less ethical as a class than any other class in business.

Your question is unclear. Who are the clever players — those who employ freelancers in order to suck clever ideas out of them for their own use? If so then some of that might turn out to be true with any consultant who is brought in. I give organizations multi-million dollar ideas. But the sad truth is that most organizations are not anywhere near clever enough to use them or take advantage of them! Yes some consultants and freelancers might be able to develop those ideas themselves as entrepreneurs. But not if those ideas are only suited to the situation of a large company with many investments and assets already in place – which no start-up entrepreneur could ever afford to finance nor be able to attract the financing for.

The final analysis: There are various pros and cons of freelancing services:
Pro: You can find a long list of jobs to suit your skills and bid on them. A job is presented with a chance for you to apply. You can apply and get freelance work assignments and some can create repeat business for you. Some bidding sites are very busy and many freelancers will get the majority of their work through those sites alone. By looking around a site you can often see how others are faring. In sites like Lime Exchange, Elance etc. for instance you can see the amount of money the top freelancers have earned in the last six months as well as since they joined the site. These figures can be pretty impressive.

Pro: You can submit your portfolio to let buyers find you. This might be through samples or your CV or resume listing. You can set up a profile and have the buyers come to you.

Pro: Site owners do the promoting and in many cases will offer escrow services or collect money from the buyers for the freelancers which reduces the risk of dealing with non-payers.

Pro: Some services charge the buyer and not the provider. Virtual staffing agencies for instance will often charge a fee to the buyer which is above and beyond the fee you earn. Sometimes you have to add that fee in so you need to remember that when using specific sites.

Con: Some services can often require that you pay. You might have to pay a flat fee for the service or you might have a membership fee. Some services like will give you a specified number of bids you can make and if you choose to bid above and beyond that you’ll pay an extra fee. This fee might be in addition to paying a percentage of the overall cost of the assignment. On the plus side as a freelancer you can write off the cost of these types of services at tax time and some bidding sites offer several packages so you can choose what type of membership you want.

Con: There might be a lot of others bidding on the same jobs so it can become a bit of a pricing war and you might feel you cant compete with others who are charging much less for their service. The plus to this is that you can start off bidding low and build your feedback bank which can elevate your profile on the bidding site. Frequent buyers get the idea that lowest price isn’t always the best.

Con: You can find scam ads in job/bidding portals and classified sites! What they all have in common is that the company will ask for an upfront fee before you can start working. The company may claim the fee is a registration fee a deposit on materials or payment for books computers etc.

Though headhunting is the practice of preserving a person’s head, HR smarties also realise they’ll get that after killing a freelancing or non-freelancing human, a criminal practice to say the least. Just doing an experiment (what B-Smarties call research!) has launched a personal site as a freelancer http://sudhirpanda.com – shall comment with reports from smart hunting couches or so-called human head hunting poachers here.

Conclusion: Getting started in freelance work at home jobs is hard work but there are many online resources that can help you find work get paid and build a niche for yourself so you can make money at home. Easy ones are Data entry Services, Offshore Data entry, Data Processing Services, Forms processing, Image Scanning, Smart Card Services, Digital Marketing, SMM, etc. Most big agencies started as one or two people. For those who knew they didn’t want their business to stay small they had to position themselves as something greater than what they were and grow slowly over time.

Therefore any freelancer starting out has to consider the question of whether he/she wants to stay a freelancer or grow into a firm. Every company starts as one or two people but it is your positioning that will dictate your growth potential. If you’re content to stay as an independent freelancer without any ball-and-chain overhead then position yourself honestly as such.

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